Chinese Internet firm Alibaba.com has vowed to defeat US giant Google in the battle to become the dominant search engine for the potentially lucrative Chinese market.
Alibaba’s chief executive Jack Ma wants to be Number One in China. E-Bay has already bitten the dust as the dominant e-commerce site in China, now his horizons are Asia and Europe.
Alibaba.com chief executive Jack Ma said his company was the undisputed king of the web in China after seeing off eBay and taking over Yahoo!'s Chinese operations in an August deal that secured a billion dollars of investment.
Speaking to reporters at a meeting of Asia Pacific leaders in the South Korean city of Busan, Ma said Alibaba.com -- through its electronic retail unit taobao.com -- had already defeated e-commerce rival e-Bay.
He said Alibaba.com was over 20 times bigger than e-Bay and has 11 million product listings on its website. The game is almost over, finished. I'm not interested in that competition at all, Ma declared, referring to e-Bay.
With 100 million users, the Chinese market is the second in the world and growing. It has vetted the appetites of world giants like Google Inc. and MSN, and local brand names like Baidu.com Inc. and Sohu.com Inc.
Ma said Google was vulnerable in China and that Alibaba would focus on building up its search engine to keep out Google.
For a search engine, I think Google is very powerful. But it is not that powerful in China now, said Ma, who founded Alibaba.com in 1999 with $US2000 ($A2729) of capital borrowed from relatives.
Asked to spell out Alibaba.com's strategy, Ma said: "We win eBay, buy Yahoo! and stop Google. That is for fun. Competition is for fun."
He accepted that Google and Yahoo! were the dominant internet powers in Europe and the United States, but he said neither was that strong in Asia.
I call them sharks in the ocean. We are crocodiles in the Yangtze River. If we fight in the Yangtze River, we have more chances than they have.
In August, Yahoo! bought 40 per cent of Alibaba for $US1 billion and turned over its Chinese operations to help it grow faster in the Chinese market. The joint venture created a combined entity valued at $US4 billion, with access to China's 100 million-plus internet users.
But Alibaba wants to increased the number of search engines, from Yahoo!’s current 100 to 4oo or 500 as well as move Yahoo!’s 2,000 servers from the US to China and increase them to 3,000 by 2006.
We will use all the resources we have to focus on search in the next two to three years in China ... We already won (over) eBay, we already bought Yahoo! and the money is to stop Google, Ma said.
Alibaba.com plans to expand in South Korea in the next two to three years, and later the Japanese market. While it also plans to boost its presence in Europe, its focus would remain in China and Asia.
A public listing for the company may only happen in three to five years, Ma said, adding that any decision on the matter must be taken for very good reasons.
Ma forecast China would become the "number one internet country" in the world in five years.